(Last Updated On: May 29, 2014)
Equity Bank so far is the only bank that has acquired a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) license in Kenya. The bank is planning to issue SIM cards to its customers which would be an alternative to debit cards and enable them to access their bank accounts and do transactions through their mobile phones.
The new cards will come in two types, one will be the normal thick SIM card similar to any other provided by telecommunication companies which will have all the functionality of voice calls, data and money transfer. The second SIM card will be the SIM skin which will be for those customers who want to retain their current mobile operator. This will turn any phone into a dual SIM phone since it will be slim (0.1 milometers thick) then it will be layered over the active side of the ordinary SIM card. This will not affect the functionality of your current SIM card.
The layered SIM card has the ability to make calls on its own plus send text messages. This is a new technology being introduced by Taisys Solutions and Digitech Communications.
All Equity Bank’s customers will get the special SIM cards for free and they wont have to change their number or buy a new phone since they will be able to access Equity Bank’s services just by slipping on the card on the backside of the existing one.
Equity Bank’s money transaction charges will actually be cheaper than Safaricom’s M-Pesa. You will send out money to any bank account or mobile network at the rate of 1% up to a maximum of sh25. Safaricom will charge sh125 to send sh70,000. When it comes to getting loans through your phone, the lowest amount you can borrow is sh500 and interests will go as high as 2%. The maximum amount you can borrow will depend on your credit history.
Equity Bank is planning to roll out the same product in Uganda and Rwanda since Airtel has a presence there. The bank is paying Airtel to use its excessive capacity to roll out its MVNO product. The product will be launched to the public in July. Equity has around 9 million customers which present a huge potential to outperform M-Pesa.